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The Love Letter

Love Letter title card

Year - 1998
Studio - Hallmark Entertainment
Stars - Campbell Scott, Jennifer Jason Leigh, David Dukes, Estelle Parsons, Daphne Ashbrook
Director - Dan Curtis
Writing Credits - James S. Henderson (television story), Jack Finney (short story)
Music - Bob Cobert

Synopsis

Scotty Corrigan (Campbell Scott), a Civil War buff, buys a 19th Century writing desk from an antique store. He discovers a secret compartment with old writing supplies, and a romantic letter written by an Elizabeth Whitcomb. On a whim, he composes a response, and shows it to his mother. She has an interest in the possibilities of time travel, and encourages him to write the letter on vintage stationery, and mail it from the only pre-Civil War post office in the area, using an old one cent postage stamp.

In the 1860s, Elizabeth (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is the owner of the desk and, when she looks in its secret compartment, she is stunned to find Scott's letter. She writes her reply, and places her letter in the compartment.

The Love Letter poster

Soon the two are exchanging increasingly romantic letters on a regular basis. Scott's fiance, Debra (Daphne Ashbrook), is concerned about his distant attitude, in the face of their upcoming wedding and Elizabeth's father is worried that she is becoming too old to find a husband. Scott visits the house where Elizabeth lived, now occupied by Flossy, her sister's granddaughter, and feels her presence in the house. Elizabeth writes that she, too, felt him there.

When Scott is riding in a bicycle race, he injures his head in a crash, and goes into a coma. As he lies unconscious in a hospital bed, Elizabeth is worried that they have lost contact with each other. She meets a Union officer, Col. Caleb Denby, (also played by Campbell Scott) and they become close, each having a sense of already knowing the other. Scott awakens from his coma and reads Elizabeth's most recent letter about the officer. He researches the name in Civil War records and learns that he was killed at Gettysburg. He hurriedly writes a letter warning Elizabeth not to let him go to that battlefield but, when he arrives at the old post office, it is being destroyed by fire. He gets past the firefighters and puts his letter in the slot as the fire rages around him. Elizabeth receives his letter, but she is too late to prevent Caleb's death in battle.

Elizabeth, believing the portal has been closed between them, is relieved to receive one final letter, which contains a photo of Scott. She smiles knowingly when she realizes that Scott and Caleb are the same person.

Scott shows the letters to Debra who tearfully breaks off their wedding plans, realizing that she can't compete with a ghost. Scott pays a final visit to Elizabeth's old house and learns that Flossy has passed away. Her housekeeper gives Scott an old box that was found in the attic. It contains all of their correspondence and, to the housekeeper's shock, the photo of Scott.

He visits Elizabeth's grave which, at the base, is inscribed "I never forgot." A s he leaves, he encounters a girl who bears an amazing resemblance to the photos of Elizabeth. Her name is Beth. They agree to go have coffee together.

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